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Converting old building to a bakery

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have dreamed for years and years to own a bakery cafe. I currently work in a stable  career where I make a decent living, but am getting worn out. I recently found a building for sale right in the neighborhood that I'd like to have a bakery, and which is in great need of a bakery. Despite the nice surrounding businesses and homes the building is not in the best shape, but might be a fair price. It is currently an office building and home (connected) so there is no existing kitchen aside from a very old home kitchen from the 20's. 

If I went ahead with the purchase there would be quite a bit of work needed to get the building suitable for what I envision. 

 

I looked at some other forums about the cost of building a commercial kitchen in a new space, but I'm curious about building in an existing space that is not set up electrically or even structurally. Does anyone have any advice or experience in doing anything like this? I am wondering about the practicality of having a mortgage payment and finding funding for a remodel. 

 

I'd also like to say that I am a good baker (but will need more schooling) and though I am passionate about it, where my strengths lay now is in managing/directing and have a good head for business in general. 

 

Thank you any feed back would be very helpful!

post #2 of 21

Oh dear........

 

Go right now to your municipality and get the local fire, electrical, plumbing, and health codes for commercial use.  Every municiplality is different

 

There is a reason the building was not upgraded, and that reason is cost.

 

For a bakery you will need a minimum of 200 amps 3 phase., and  that's assuming you have a gas line.  What will it cost to bring such an electrical service to the building?

 

What condition are the floors, cieling, walls and roof in?  How old is the current plumbing, and what will be needed to bring it to comercial plumbing code?

 

If you don't know what you are getting into, it can be very expensive........

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 21

Food Pump is 100% right . Some places you may even have to install huge grease traps depending on location. Conversion sometime is as costly as new construction, as you never know what you will encounter.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #4 of 21

Reiterating FoodPump, check with:

  • Local Health department for commercial kitchen standards, they usually require a floor plan as a minimum
  • Local Planning/Building department for electrical, plumbing, and building codes as well as current zoning requirements, many jurisdictions differentiate between office and commercial/retail zones. May need a Conditional Use Permit. Also, ADA requirements for access, i.e. door widths, ADA restrooms, etc.
  • Local fire department for fire codes, including sprinklers, emergency exits, ventilation (hoods), and fire suppression (ANSUL)
  • Local electrical utility for availability of MINIMUM 200 amp, 240 volt, 3 phase service
  • Local natural gas utility for availability of MINIMUM 1" natural gas supply
  • Local records office for deed restrictions
  • Insurance agent for insurance requirements
     
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 21

Fellow-food-guys are right, research heavily even if you have to hire somone

to walk the space and give you an informed estimate of what all has to be done.

In many cases, bringing an old sub-standard building up to

current commercial codes can quickly become far more costly than

a new contruction scenario--which aint cheap as it is--due to tear-outs,

re-dos, alterations/having-to-fit-things-in, not to mention cost of disposing

of all the obsolete/refuse materials. Which often can include legally "hazardous" stuff.

 

So look before leaping....hopefully not straight into an abyss.

post #6 of 21
Hire an architect - one who has experience with commercial bakeries and restaurants in the area where you want to set up. He'll know what's required and what standards need to be met.

Walk through the building with him - he should be able to give you a good idea if things will work out and a rough estimate of costs. He'll also have access to all of the trades (electrician, plumber, gas fitter, etc) you're going to need and will be able to call on them (in many cases without any additional cost to you) in order to figure out if actually can meet the local regulations.

If it's not viable, he should be able to let you know before you're in too deep

post #7 of 21

Another thing - check with your local historical societies / BBB's and Chamber of Commerce etc.   

 

Find out if they have any previous knowledge of the place, particularly if anyone else has tried to fix it up and if they have any money to throw at rejuvenating it.

 

Honestly if you don't have outside help or at least a 'historical edge' in re-rolling the entire building you'd do much better finding even cheaper land nearby and going new construction.

 

(also a lot of this advice (above advice included) depends on where you live, some provinces have much less strict regulations and the ability to 'interpret' them for the sake of common sense) 

 

PS - if you're in Cali... you're screwed that place has so many insane laws and hoops i'm amazed that anything ever gets done.

(I still have huge awe and respect for those that do open a business there)

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by roman View Post

Hire an architect - one who has experience with commercial bakeries and restaurants in the area where you want to set up.

Ehhh...No.

 

Architects don't know diddly squat about food service kitchens, or for that matter hospital layouts, prison layouts, or factory layouts. For foodservice kitchens, 99% of the architects farm out the design to a restaurant equipment supplier.  Dining room is another story  They do know the trade codes, but not the health codes.

I've got two architects in my family, they don't know that all cooler doors open outwards, or that the dishpit should be located as near to the service doors as possible.

Architects are expensive and don't like to waste time on projects that don't have a decent chance of even making it to the bank.

 

No, if  you want an informed opinion about opening a potential restaurant or bakery in an old building, you go down to your bank manager and ask him to give you the name of his most trusted home/building inspector that he uses for commercial buildings.  Two to three hours poking around the place and at the end an educated opinion should set you back maybe three hundred bucks.

 

Remember, there is a lot of "other stuff" that has to be considered along with the health of the building:

Zoning

Parking (novels can be and have been written about this issue)

Fire code upgrades (ie sprinklers, fire hose connections, fire panel, etc)

Seismic upgrades if required

Rough estimate of electrical upgrades

Rough estimate of plumbing upgrades

Rough estimate of HVAC, including ventilation (if required)

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 21

A  seasoned pro. from a rest. equipment supply is better at kitchen layout then any arcitect. \\\and can answer all questions re equipment where arc\citect cant, because he doesn;t know equipment.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #10 of 21

On the bright side most places that go under do so for the lack of an owner with any practical business experience.

A person that can create awesome dishes or decorate a beautiful wedding cake and has no head for numbers is (IMO) doomed.

Take a step back, hire a pro to council you and then write a ruthlessly honest business plan.

Hope things work for you, a bakery in a historical building, done right, can make you a nice income.

 

mimi

post #11 of 21
Like everything else, depends - if you get an architect that does everything from prisons to factories, then you're right - you can't (and shouldn't) expect them to know food service. If you get one who's does mostly food service then they do know the ins and outs. If they're not sure about something, then they know who to call to find out. Some of the work does get subbed out (for example - hood design), but a lot is done in house.
He charges by the hour to start - he's not cheap, but at the end of the consult, you've pretty much got enough information to make an informed go/no-go decision for the location. If it's a go, a contract is drawn up and you're on your way. If not, his time is paid for and there are no hard feelings and he's more then happy to help other locations.
Most cities won't give you a commercial building permit without plans signed off by an architect, So you're going to end up hiring one anyways.
Personally, I wouldn't (and didn't) hire a building inspector - they might know buildings but don't have the depth of knowledge an architect does. They also probably don't know food service, zoning or any of the other regulations you're going to have to deal with.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by roman View Post


Most cities won't give you a commercial building permit without plans signed off by an architect, So you're going to end up hiring one anyways.
 

Maybe for a whole, complete new building that is a dedicated bakery or restaurant.  But I have set up kitchens and restaurants in Canada, Singapore, and Switzerland and never needed an architect, or was one required.   As you write, submitted drawings with a seal/stamp from a mechanical engineer is needed for the shaft and the hood, but I have never had the request for an architect's stamp or drawings.

 

The current bakery I'm in now, was my project.  It was a unit in a brand new building and the building had completed it's occupancy permit.  What I got was 4 cement walls, a cement floor and a cement ceiling, not even a hole in the floor for plumbing or even a light fixture.  I hired a general contractor who hired the trades (plumbing, electrical, hvac).  Since I have no gas appliances and no cooking equipment (deepfryers, griddles) I didn't need a hood.  I drew up my own plans and submitted them to city hall and the health dept.  These were approved, and all inspections passed, including final occupancy.  I did all of the cabinetery, millwork, and merchandising displays myself.

 

This was pretty much the same situation in Switzerland, and in Singapore. I did run into problems with Singaporean health dept, who demanded a 2 hr rated firewall around my walk-in and freezer, and refused to elaborate as to why they demanded this, but I did as they asked (overbudget,I didn't see this coming) and passed all inspections on schedule.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 21

Building, Occupancy and Zoning

If the building in which you plan to open your bakery is a new construction, there are generally a number of permits, licenses and certifications that are required before you are allowed to occupy the premises. If the property is not zoned for a bakery, you may need to request a zoning variance or change in zoning. The city inspectors are usually required to inspect the property to confirm that the building is safe for occupancy before you are granted an occupancy permit. The local fire marshal will need to inspect the property before you are cleared to open. If the building is not new, but you plan to open a different type of business than was previously operated in the building, you will most likely need the same inspections as if the structure were new.

Taxes

In order to operate a bakery, you will need to register with both the federal and state tax authorities. You will need an employer identification number, or EIN number, from the Internal Revenue Service. You will also need to obtain a sales and use tax certificate from the state department of revenue. If you plan to have employees, you will need to register with the unemployment office and workers' compensation board in your state, as well.

Business

There are a number of business licenses or certificates that you may need to operate a bakery. You may wish to incorporate your business through your secretary of state. You also need to register your business name with the secretary of state as an assumed name or as a "doing business as," or D.B.A. name. A general business license is also often required, which can be obtained through the city or county where your bakery is located.

Food

You will need to obtain a certificate or permit through the local department of health in order to sell food at your bakery. As you will likely be preparing the food you will be selling, the health department will need to complete an inspection of the premises before approving your permit. If you are using a deep fryer, for making doughnuts for example, there may be specific requirements in addition to the regular requirements for food preparation. If meat products are to be sold, you will need a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and alcohol sales will require a liquor license obtained from the county or city.

post #14 of 21

It is with great interest that I read your post about converting an old building into a bakery, since I am doing almost the same thing!  I bought a very old building(1820's)  in our village in upstate NY; in an excellent location directly across the street from a hospital with the idea of converting it into a tea room and bakery.  I'm about 18 months into it and have finally gotten the rezoning and building permit required. I've been working with an architect throughout the project; and most certainly the renovation will cost far more than I originally anticipated, but luckily I did not pay much for the building to begin with.  The building has been gutted since everything is being replaced anyway. I really love taking an old property and making it come alive again, and creating a beautiful environment.

 

I don't have much experience in food service (I worked in a cafeteria and was a Dunkin Donut girl in my youth) but I do have many years of business experience and understand costing, product development, branding & sales.  I love cooking, baking (especially cakes and desserts) & entertaining but I did not want the pressure of a full scale restaurant, so a tea room and bakery seemed like a good fit. We don't have a bakery or tea room in our village, and the project has enjoyed enormous public support thus far. 

 

After doing on-line research, menu/product development and anticipated volume is the key to equipment selection.  Basically I will be offering normal bakery items - specialty breads, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, scones & desserts; plus serving a formal afternoon tea which will include finger sandwiches & small savory side dishes.  I will be serving a variety of teas & hot and cold beverages; plus given the location I think hot breakfast sandwiches would go well.  We will also be promoting private parties and hope to segue into brunch.  I will have seating for about 32-36 indoors, plus another 12-16 outdoors on the pergola + 4-6 on the front porch.   

 

Where I am getting really hung up is the commercial kitchen design and the retail bakery design, for the display cases and working counter.  My architect is great for the building in general, but he does not have experience with commercial kitchens.  I don't really know what equipment is best, nor the best layout for the space.  I've been checking out equipment on line but it's pretty daunting.  It also seems very difficult to find out exactly what the regulations for commercial kitchens in our county, and I have to submit a detailed plan for the kitchen to get that portion of the project permitted. 

 

If anyone has any advice regarding equipment, kitchen and retail bakery layout, I'd welcome it. 

 

Thanks very much! - Nancy M.

post #15 of 21

Hi Nancy,

Your menu seems very ambitious. Are you doing this alone?

You seem to understand business. You need to remember you run 2 businesses. Manufacturing/wholesale and retail. Leaving room for the wholesale is very important.

I can't stress enough, it is very tuff starting life trying to survive out of the register. You really need a secondary income.

Specialty breads is great, but I have found over the years that yeast work increases payroll, equipment cost, 20 hour labor times. You have to sell quite a lot of bread to equal one $50. 10" cake. I'd love to offer you more if you would like to PM.

I can also help with equipment needs.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #16 of 21

"----Architects don't know diddly squat about food service kitchens, or for that matter hospital layouts, prison layouts, or factory layouts. For foodservice kitchens, 99% of the architects farm out the design to a restaurant equipment supplier.  ---"

 

Architects need a minimum 5 years of schooling, a few years of practical working experience, pass licensing exams before they are allowed to practice. Kind of like doctors.

 

If you don’t trust architects, you shouldn’t trust doctors either.

 

It is much easier to second guess architects because everyone has watched “This Old House” episodes.

 

 

dcarch

post #17 of 21

I meant every word I said, DHcarch, architects don't have much knowledge of commercial kitchens.  Both my brother and his wife are architects, and my sister-in-law also teaches architecture.  Architects know design, codes, building and construction methods, and the ways and mysteries around city hall.  Give them a restaurant to design, and they will focus on design of the dining room, but will have no idea of kitchen layout and contract that out to a restaurant equipment supplier.  They don't even have the usual symbols for basic restaurant equipment ( sinks, mixers, fryers, stoves, etc) on their autocad programs. 

 

Designing a kitchen demands thorough knowledge of local health codes, and the architects are not familiar with this.  For instance, health code demands that staff washrooms are no further than 50 ft away from the work area, not many architects know this.  Dedicated handsinks, potsinks, pre-rinse sinks, mop sinks and vegetable prep sinks are a must, and most architects can't differentiate between them or understand why all are neccesary.   Lighting fixtures must be covered with a material that is NOT glass, they don't know that either, or to ensure that dry storage areas can not have any overhead waste water or sewage lines.  A lot of architects don't understand that virtually all walk-ins require remote compressors, and the further away this is, the larger and more expensive the compressor has to be, nor do they understand that if you cram a small room with refrigeration equipment, it will become unbearably hot.

 

Kitchens are 90% infrastructure and 10% design.  The location of the vent hood dictates the location of the stove, but the location  of the shaft dictates the location of the hood.  The building design and building materials dictate the location of the shaft.  Floor drains are a godsend, but no architect would even have an idea of putting one in, minimum sizes for greasetraps are 55 gals--a big, ugly, stupid box, and this has to be factored into the design, the more equipment you have, the large this box has to be  .  Hot water is also very important, and a good kitchen has it's own hot water tank, and this will need to be vented.  

 

All this stuff I mentioned is common knowledge to restaurant equipment dealers who usually have a design department.  Architects use these guys for the kitchens, they don't bother learning that kind of stuff.

 

 

Please, pretty please, don't take my word for all this.  Contact a few architects yourself.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #18 of 21

I am not disagreeing with your experience regarding architects.

 

It's just that I have a completely difference experience than yours.

 

I have two architect relatives. There are five architects living on the two blocks where I live. I have friends who are architects. I am impressed by their expertise in the specialties they are in. One of the five architects designed all the cooking facilities for the TV Foodnetwork. He has taken me to show me many of his kitchens he designed. Another one has taken me to many restaurants he has designed.

 

I know restaurant owners who are very pleased with their architects.

 

You will be a very unhappy client if you hire an architect whose specialty is hospitals to design your kitchen.

 

Likewise, you will be crazy to go to a gynecologist for brain surgery.

 

dcarch

post #19 of 21

Agreed, there are architects who do specialize in commercial kitchens.

 

But commercial kitchen design isn't a subject covered in any Architectual curriculum, it's something learned in the field.  And not many architects specialize or have a working knowledge of commercial kitchens.

 

Like I said, most of the commercial kitchens are designed by restaurant equipment dealers who have a specialized department for this.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #20 of 21

I just forwarded this thread to my architect friend who has done many commercial kitchens.

 

Basically he said, typically, the client dictates the design of the kitchen, as it should be. There is no single way to layout a kitchen. All chefs have their own ways of work flow. The architect then plans out the client’s “dream” kitchen based on the structure, the floor plan, utility locations and basic dimensions of all appliances. He then checks with the project engineering team for electrical/HVAC issues. At that point, the equipment suppliers’/manufacturers’ technical department is asked to assist in the final construction drawings. They are the ones who can tell for their equipment, which side the gas comes in, the water line diameters, electrical ampage, plug type, etc.

 

The equipment suppliers do not perform designs, unless they have licensed architects, engineers on their staff to also design the dinning room, store front, furniture and finishes selections, general contracting, etc.. Also they have to be willing to deal with landlord’s architect and engineer for reviews and approvals before the landlord is willing to sign the papers for the application of a construction permit.

 

Professionals in many fields do require the assistance from the manufacturers. Sometimes things can be very strange. Check out the following links.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/health/salesmen-in-the-surgical-suite.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

http://vactruth.com/2009/12/27/medical-sales-reps-work-alongside-doctors-even-in-operating-rooms/

 

dcarch

post #21 of 21

Hi people,

I think we need to get back on track here and help Nancy.

The fact is her architect does not have kitchen experience. I went to school with the flintstones but I do remember my classes on kitchen design. Triangles to reduce steps and energy, etc.

Health codes are another thing. The simple fact is here in the states each area has their own interpretation of the FDA guidelines. I've done enough consulting over the years that most departments will accept plans ahead of time. That's not to say the project inspector and the CO inspector will see eye to eye. 90% of the time you will have a pretty healthy punch list. That's all part of it.

I just received a 1300. fine for my grease trap. The city changed it's codes and now we're required to have one the size of a car out back in the ground. 14K I had a $23. dollar water bill and have no grease in the kitchen. So it doesn't end in the beginning. You're always making changes. Oh, we've been in the same location for 18 yrs.

  I say with all the years experience on this forum, we get together and help Nancy. I don't know of another place with the experience here.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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